More tips for playing PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

Some less-obvious tricks for surviving PUBG.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has grown from a promising Early Access game to full-blown sensation. We’re still unpacking its layers of tactical depth, and if you’re jumping in for the first time or are looking to increase your knowledge, here's a selection of tips that could give you an edge.

Don’t stop moving

When you’re in an exposed position or in an extended firefight keep moving as much as possible. If you know where your target is, move laterally to them. If you're looting outdoors, hit the Tab (inventory) key, then keep dancing with WASD as you drag items into your inventory with the mouse. Standing still is what gives enemies the time to line up headshots.

Respect the bush

Hiding in a bush might seem like a bad idea, given that a bush offers exactly zero physical protection. Yet, because of how difficult it is to see a player crouched in a bush it’s a remarkably effective hiding spot and can be used to surprise or simply hide. If you’re fighting in the wilderness always give nearby bushes at least a cursory inspection and be aware of your surroundings.

Understanding the electric wall of death that will consume us all

The blue circle is as dangerous as anything else in the late game and can be a source of annoyance throughout as it siphons you towards other players. 

From the first moment you're able to jump out of the plane, you have about 1 minute 50 seconds  to do some initial looting before the first circle is identified. Here are the timings for each of the circles:

Circle 1: 5 minutes

Circle 2: 3 minutes 20 seconds

Circle 3: 2 minutes 30 seconds

Circle 4: 2 minutes

Circle 5: 2 minutes

Circle 6: 1 minute 30 seconds

Circle 7: 1 minute 30 seconds

Circle 8: 1 minute

Early zones do minimal damage (you can use boost items to entirely mitigate this), however if the energy barrier reaches the next white circle while you’re still outside of it, that damage will double. The base damage goes up progressively with each circle, with late game zones capable of killing you in a matter of seconds.

What does armor do?

When I first played PUBG I was picking up cosmetic head choices over motorcycle helmets. Big mistake. The three armor tiers have two sets of statistics: durability, and damage reduction. 

The durability tells you how much damage a piece of armor can take before it’s destroyed, damage reduction tells you the percentage of damage the armor mitigates up until it is destroyed, increasing through the tiers. Furthermore a piece of armor is 100% effective up until the moment it is destroyed. That means a Tier 3 helmet with 1 durability will still save you from a Kar 98k headshot. 

Tier 1 armor provides 30% damage reduction and has a durability of 80 on the helmet, 200 for the vest.

Tier 2 armor provides 40% damage reduction and has a durability of 150 on the helmet, 220 for the vest.

Tier 3 armor provides 55% damage reduction and has a durability of 230 on the helmet, 250 on the vest.

It’s also worth noting that arms and legs are unaffected by armor, but you take 50% less damage when hit there, while headshots do 2.5x more damage than a chest shot. Effectively, then, arms and legs have permanent 'Tier 2.5' armor.

Full credit to akadiablo2213 for some fantastic testing.

Car spawns

Excluding garages, car spawns are always adjacent to a paved or dirt road and crucially, they are always facing eastwards, making it easy to distinguish whether you’re stealing someone else’s car or are picking up a fresh spawn. If you see a car parked that is facing any other direction than east, expect enemies nearby. Likewise, you can use this against players by parking your car with the front end facing east.

Dive, dive, dive!

If you’re put in a situation where you need to swim or just fancy taking a dip, it’s always worth bearing in mind that while underwater you can’t be hit by bullets (though you will need to surface for air periodically). My former soldier friend tells me this has a basis in reality and that anything below a .20-caliber round will be stopped by 5 feet of water (though he may have learned this from an episode of Top Gear).

Moving faster

When your weapon is unequipped (the X key, by default) you can run slightly faster, perfect if you’re dashing to cover or escaping the blue circle.

Using boost

You may have noticed that when using boost items (painkillers, energy drinks and adrenaline shots) four thin bars above your health bar turn yellow. These represent the four stages of boost, with the following effects.

1 Bar: you will slowly heal over time

2 Bars: you will heal over time slightly faster

3 Bars: you will run slightly faster

4 Bars: you will aim down your weapon sight slightly faster.

Boost is also the only way to get back to 100% health when damaged, other than using a rarely found medkit. If you make it to the late-game and have a stack of boost items, it’s worth keeping your bars topped up even if you have full health. 


Distance and rangefinding

The PUBG map (including water) is 8km by 8km, divided into 1km2 squares. Zooming in on the map allows you to see further squares denoting 100m2. You can use this to judge distances and estimate how far away a zone, building or player is from your location. 

In nearly all firefights, stopping to calculate distances and changing your weapon’s zeroing would not be recommended unless you excel at spatial awareness and in-game geometrics. Instead, you’re best off using aim adjust to aim slightly above your target to account for bullet drop.

One exception to this is sniping. You can roughly mentally map out the distance between your sniping spot and visible landmarks, changing your weapon zeroing to match when you see targets, using the PgUp and PgDn keys by default. It’s worth re-mapping these keys to something more natural (like mousewheel) if you want to use it consistently.

Riding shotgun


If you’re alone, driving a car, you may think yourself entirely defenceless. But simply switching to an unoccupied seat (Ctrl+1, 2, 3, or 4) will allow you to fire your gun while the car is moving. For best results you want to be on flat terrain (like a road), otherwise aiming may prove problematic.

Be sure to check out Chrisopher Livingston’s previous tips guide for more great advice.